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FWC charges St. Lucie man with illegal possession of venomous snake

News Release

February 18, 2011
Contact: Gabriella B. Ferraro, 772-215-9459

Investigators with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) charged a St. Lucie County man with a first-degree misdemeanor for having a venomous snake in his home without a proper permit. Kevin A. Castle (DOB 02/27/71) of Fort Pierce was also issued two warnings for improper caging. A first-degree misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year in jail and up to a $1,000 fine.

Working on a tip, investigators visited Castle’s home on Jan. 28 and observed an Eastern diamondback rattlesnake in an unlocked cage on the back porch. The cage was not properly marked or identified as containing a venomous reptile. Investigators seized the snake.

The Eastern diamondback is a large rattlesnake native to Florida. Adults can grow to an average of 3-6 feet in length and can weigh up to 10 pounds.

Diamondback rattlesnakes can strike from a distance equal to two-thirds of their body length. They are best left alone when encountered. It is illegal to possess or transport these snakes without a permit.

“We take captive wildlife regulations very seriously,” said FWC Lt. Chris Harris. “Proper permitting, cage and security requirements for venomous snakes are important public safety issues.”